Most Impactful Hour of Devastation Cards

I believe that despite being a small set, Hour of Devastation will have a large impact on the standard format. There are many cards that are somewhat under the radar that have the ability to create new archetypes and cards that might help defeat former great decks such as G/B Constrictor and Mardu vehicles. This list below is what I believe will be the top 10 most impactful cards for constructed, as well as ideas on which decks to put them in, that I have found after testing a significant amount for this upcoming pro tour in Kyoto.

1. Champion of wits

Champion of Wits

This card will add consistency to fringe archetypes that showed up in the past such as Temur Emerge, U/R Zombies, Grixis Gods Pharaoh Gift (I’ll get into that later) and 4 color Haunted Dead/Prized Amalgam decks. Champion of Wits has the potential to propel these decks to being tier one or close to it. This card provides value and increased consistency early, and is also a great creature to emerge Elder Deep Fiend from. I expect this card to be in the top 8 of many local events this weekend and the open in Cincinnati. Buy this card while it is still $2.

2. Hour of Devastation

Hour of Devastation

This is the best board wipe we have seen in a long time in standard. It cleanly deals with Gideon, any creatures that hit the table before it, and also stops indestructible creatures such as Selfless Spirit, Avacyn, and Crested Sunmare. This card will help bring back control in standard and I will be busy working on creature decks that can beat this card.

3. Abrade

Abrade

Finally a good main-deck answer to Heart of Kiran for decks that do not play black, such as my favorite Temur Energy. Abrade is one of the best removal spells printed in a while as it cleanly kills a wide range of things from Oketra’s Monument, to Winding Constrictor, to Gearhulks. Expect to play against this card a lot and try to play more with x-4s.

4. Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh

Nichol Bolas, God-Pharaoh

This is a powerful top end that works extremely well in decks that play Chandra to play it as early as turn 4. Bolas is best when its 7 damage to the face ability is relevant, so you want to play bolas in decks with Glorybringer and not in decks that play Torrential Gearhulk. Bolas is meant to be a proactive card and not a reactive one, since it’s best at closing close games.

5. Hour of Promise

Hour of Promise

Hour of Promise is Explosive Vegetation that hit the gym nonstop for a few years. It gets any two lands and comes with 2 zombies most of the time, making it well worth 5 mana and a great reason to play negates in your sideboard this weekend. This card will make it that people can still register Ulamog for standard by fetching 2 Shrine of Forsaken Gods.

6. God- Pharaoh’s Gift

God-Pharaoh’s Gift

I played against a Grixis cycling deck in a standard league online that played this card along with Aarchfiend of Infinir, Curator of Mysteries, Vizier of Tumbling Sands, Glorybringer, Locust God, Insolent Neonate and some other cards. I was defeated soundly and my opponent’s deck felt extremely powerful and very real. I would not be surprised if this card creates a Living End style standard deck that is very good.

7. Claim // Fame

Claim // Fame

My modern decks of choice recently have been Death Shadow variants and this card slots right into Jund and Grixis Shadow. It brings back Death Shadow and Tarmogoyf, giving them haste. Works better in Grixis where they have access to Thought Scour. I will most likely be registering this card at SCG Syracuse if I decide to go there instead of GP Minneapolis.

8. Pride Sovereign

Pride Sovereign

Army in a can creatures are almost always good and that is what this Aslan impersonator does. G/W Tokens is an ideal home for this card, time will tell if that deck has the tools to beat Hour of Devastation and efficient enough removal to hang with the other threats of the format.

9. Crested Sunmare

Crested Sunmare

This card has the potential to have a whole deck built around it as most of the time it’s a 5 mana 10/10. The key with this card is the power level of its support cards and if a good enough core can be built around it I expect this card to see a lot of play. Life-gain is typically not a strong mechanic, but I am confident I’ll be riding this horse to victory at some point.

10. The New Gods

The Locust GodThe Scarab GodThe Scorpion God

The new gods are more playable than most of the Amonkhet gods, besides Rhonas and Hazoret. Expect to play against these as one-of’s in most mid-range decks that can cast them as they are great mana syncs and are very difficult to get rid of. Try to have access to at least one way to remove them in all of your standard deck lists.

These are my top 10 impactful cards from the new set that I will be expecting to play against at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation and at the tournaments that will be played this weekend. Some of these cards are currently great buys if you will be needing them for this weekend as many cards in this set are being undervalued in my opinion. I hope this article helped you guys out on deck ideas and what you might have to face this release weekend.

Matt Tumavitch

Weekly Ward S2 E25 – Top 10 Creatures

Kevin & Dan recap SCG Invitationals, talk Hall of Fame requirements, and then give you their Top 10 Creatures.

download-our-app-mid-article-banner-ad-520x86

Falcon Fly By: Standard State of Mind

Hey guys!

The Falcon is back with another fly by. This time I want to talk about where I believe Standard currently is. Frank Karsten wrote an article a few weeks ago about the equilibrium of a standard meta game with Marvel in it. The results of that equilibrium were 13/17 B/G, 2/17 Zombies, 1/17 U/R Control. This would lead the format to all decks being about 50% against the field. Also noted in his results were the win percentages for 6 broad archetypes.

The 6 archetypes listed were B/G, Marvel, Vehicles, Energy Aggro, Zombies, and U/R Control. Naturally we can remove Marvel from our studies as we are looking at what standard will look like going forward. Let’s look at a quick review of the match ups listed. I will simply list the number of match ups that are 50% or higher for each of the decks.

B/G – 4/5
Vehicles – 3/5
Energy Aggro – 3/5
U/R Control – 3/5
Zombies 2/5

download-our-app-mid-article-banner-ad-520x86

Please note again that these are numbers from when Marvel was legal. They will be skewed a bit in different directions because of the loss of a deck. Also to be noted that these numbers were derived from combining variations of archetypes as well. Constrictor, Energy, and Delirium for B/G. Jeskai, Mardu, and 4C Vehicles. Pummeler and Temur energy. Mono Black and W/B Zombies. Looking at these numbers very quickly we can see that B/G in its flavors is currently one of the best decks. How you build it will be completely to your personal preference and I believe all flavors are very good right now. Something else we can find is that B/G was a whopping 66% vs Vehicles which says to me that we can anticipate some drop in the play of that deck. Knowing these two things leads me to believe that Zombies is much better than it shows. It has above 50% against B/G and if Vehicles is seeing less play then that also bodes well for Zombies.

My pick for the first few weeks of best decks will be B/G and Vehicles. These two archetypes have seen a lot of play during their times in standard. It will be very easy for people to pick up these decks as many still have them. Zombies and U/R will be seen and will be strong contenders at the second tier. I’m not sure where Energy Aggro decks will stand in the upcoming standard. It’s very possible that the Temur versions of the deck picked up some wins from people sideboarding incorrectly thinking about marvel. Pummeler will still be a very reasonable choice and can still produce combo finishes that are luckily much easier to deal with.

I personally would recommend B/G. We can now get away with playing midrange decks with wraths, planeswalkers, and tap out on our turn for things. With a few more removal spells, Liliana, the Last Hope, and Yahenni’s Expertise, we can improve the Zombies match up by a lot and help other match ups as well. We have all the tools to take over the standard format in a way that people can interact with us.

That is what I have to say about decks currently available. New Perspectives Combo and Abzan Tokens might just be great choices because they will do well versus midrange strategies. But what I really want to do is find that niche that no one else is doing. Go out to the great beyond and find they key. And I know just the card to start with.

DESCEND UPON THE SINFUL

This card is great! Now I cannot say I’m the first explorer to land on this great piece of tech. Daniel Ward has been shouting from the top of every mountain about this card. And I acknowledged that it was a good card and that his Bant Marvel deck was great because of it. Marvel mirrors seemed horrible and I wanted no part of that. But now, now we have a time where we can tap 6 mana, cast a sorcery, and smile because none of our opponents creatures are surviving or ever coming back. And sometimes we get a 4/4 Angel token. Seems good. Black Green Delirium would be a solid place to start with this card, but every time I start a list for it I’m knee deep in creatures thinking about what spots in can fit my wrath in. So I’m back to a Black White drawing board. Something with little creatures and a lot of spells. Planeswalkers, card draw, and removal. The great part about B/W is that we get so many cards that are universal at removing permanents. Cast Out, Forsake the Worldly, Never // Return, and Anguished Unmaking. There is a strong possibility that adding red will make something like this very good.

This is where I would start:

This is where I would start. There are powerful removal, planeswalkers, and creatures. This is step 1 in building our best B/W list. I am probably going to be playing this or something similar at a PPTQ this weekend. The sideboard isn’t anything spectacular. Just additional numbers to help add a few percentage points in all matchups. I chose to forego Dispossess because I don’t feel all that afraid of Torrential Gearhulk. I included Lost Legacy because I felt more inclined to interact with the New Perspectives Combo more than the U/R Control. If they lose their primary combo piece then the deck falls apart. There isn’t much of a plan B. Out of the sideboard there might be cards like Drake Haven which are also hit by the cards that I would choose to bring in. I will make sure to let everyone know how I do. And if you pick up this list or something similar please let me know how you did! Another removal spell and more wraths for the Zombies deck. And a few more grindy go big spells to help the post board Vehicles matchup.

All in all I think this list is solid. If you choose to pilot this or something similar please let me know how you did. I will let every one know how I do as well.

As always, stay humble and hungry.
~Falcon~

The Road to VSL: A Workshop on Workshop

Greetings to all my SHOPpers! In my last article Get in Losers, we’re going SHOPping I went over a brief history of the Mishra’s Workshop archetype and how it evolved over the years. Today I will be discussing powerful modern-day Mishra’s Workshop decks to play in 2017 and beyond. If you want to put a Thorn in the side of your opponent and lay Waste to their mana, get Wired for a Workshop on the archetype. I will leave no Lodestone unturned.

Let’s start with a question. How do you know if a Mishra’s Workshop deck is right for you? After all, Vintage isn’t necessarily a format where it’s easy to scrounge up a few decks and see which you like the most. As a burgeoning Vintage player, you should try proxying up decks and playing with friends, watching/reading Vintage content (Hi!), and researching before just jumping into a deck/archetype right off the bat. Measure twice, cut once.

So what kind of players would enjoy Mishra’s Workshop decks?

Do you hate fun? (Yes / No)

Oh, you answered “Yes?” Perfect, go out, buy your playset of Mishra’s Workshops and enjoy bringing misery on everyone around you! Buh-bye!

I’m just kidding of course, so let me take off my Jester’s Cap and get right to business.

Do you enjoy playing a top tier deck?
Do you enjoy playing prison or mana denial decks in other formats?
Do you like bringing the beatdown from time to time?
Do you like artifacts?
Do you enjoy locks/uninteractive games?
Are you good with die rolls?
Are you okay with being separated from our savior Ancestral Recall?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, perhaps we have a Workshop pilot in the making. On the contrary…

Do you like blue spells?
Do you like combo, control, or midrange decks?
Do you like tutors, card advantage, and planewalkers?
Do you dislike giving up control some games?
Do you dislike when powerful sideboard cards are played against you?
Are you average or worse with die rolls?
Can you not be separated from our savior Ancestral Recall?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, perhaps you may want to look at other decks in Vintage.

So what makes up a Workshop deck? You will find many cards do overlap between decklists. While they may only differ by a few cards, the roles those cards can play make the deck work differently enough that they should be assessed differently. Just because the decks share a game plan, doesn’t mean all shops decks are the same.

Cards like the following are typically found in all workshop decks, as they are what the deck wants to do at its core:

Tolarian AcademyWastelandCrucible of WorldsLodestone GolemThorn of Amethyst
Tangle WireTrinisphere

Cards like the following can define a particular type of shop deck that may branch off the traditional path:

Uba MaskFleetwheel CruiserSmokestackKuldotha ForgemasterMutavault

What better way to start off than with a couple of decks by Montolio? He is one of the most accomplished Vintage players in the world and is regarded as a specialist in the Mishra’s Workshop… Sphere. 😉

Arcbound Ravager

Oh boy, can you say, “Synergy?” There are more +1/+1’s in this deck than I can count… er? Arcbound Ravager is the primary beatstick in this deck and provides the deck with ways to win relatively quickly or attrition the opponent out in a longer game.

Steel Overseer

Steel Overseer is an excellent way to grow otherwise puny creatures into formidable threats in quick fashion. Including Mishra’s Factory, there are 24 creatures in the maindeck to grow and the counters provide synergy with Arcbound Ravager and Walking Ballista.

Walking Ballista

Speaking of Walking Ballista, this amazing addition to Vintage from Aether Revolt has been making waves. While it seems somewhat mana intensive at first glance, the flexibility provided by the Ballista make it an excellent, scalable threat that provides pressure and removal of sorts to creatures, planeswalkers, and of course, players. After all, many shops decks were playing Triskelion prior to this card’s printing and the Ballista is almost strictly better. This card works beautifully with Ravager as well, potentially finishing an opponent off out of nowhere. Hasta Ballista, baby!

Foundry Inspector

Foundry Inspector rounds out the notable inclusions for this deck and is no slouch. Admittedly, when I first saw Rich Shay win a Vintage premier event with four copies of this card, I was still hesitant. It just doesn’t look like it does enough in a world like Vintage, but after further inspection and testing it out myself, I am impressed. It has a respectable body, works in multiples, and makes larger Ballistas a more likely occurrence. Additionally, it makes some of the more costly sideboard options more manageable to cast.

The next list is another Montolio creation and while I have no experience with the decklist myself, it isn’t hard to see how it (metal)works.

Metalwork Colossus

This 10 power creature can be quite the threat if resolved. I do like the fact that it has the ability to be reliably recurred in the late-game. This should give this list a fair amount of advantage over other shops decks, however, I find that Crucible/Wasteland tends to win those kind of games more often. The Colossus has a type of pseudo-affinity, where it’s casting cost is reduced based on your board presence. It may not get a reduction from moxen or creatures, but it gets a hefty reduction to make up for it from the likes of Tangle Wire, sphere effects, and this next card…

Fleetwheel Cruiser

Start your engines with a car that can start itself! Fleetwheel Cruiser is unique addition to some shops decks from Kaladesh that effectively applies pressure to the opponent fast. Playing beatstick creatures like Juggernaut or Slash Panther isn’t unusual for shops decks. The goal is to make the opponent stumble on mana and resources long enough for you to finish them off. Workshop decks rarely establish hard locks, so frequently you will want to win the game sooner than later. The Cruiser does this job better than the previous cards and has the upside of being immune to cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Supreme Verdict. Crewing this vehicle is easier than expected and in instances where it is not turned on it does provide a discount on Metalwork Colossus.

Up next, we have a decklist that earned a top 4 finish from 2017 Swedish Vintage Nationals.

Smokestack

Smokestack is an extremely powerful and game-warping spell printed in a Magic era long-gone. While it may seem oddly symmetrical, much like Tangle Wire, Smokestack provides its user the ever-important choice of when/if to tick it up. This deck plays a resource denial plan excellently and will often peck you to death for two damage a turn, as you slowly lose everything you hold dear. As I like to say, Stax decks use Stacks, and stack triggers onto the stack to make you sac. Basically, it’s stacks on stacks on stacks.

Crucible of Worlds

This powerful artifact should see play in pretty much every Workshop decklist, if only for the fact that it is needed to combat the opponent’s copy. Getting Wasteland/Strip Mine locked is a real thing in Vintage and there is little way to prepare for it. A huge aspect of shops mirrors come down to who can stick a Crucible of Worlds and obliterate the opponent’s lands turn after turn. Crucicble sees maindeck play in many Smokestack decklists because it has additional synergy with the deck’s namesake card. Also, Crucible + Invetor’s Fair is like living the dream, even if it is perhaps a bit win-more.

Null Rod

What’s this? Null Rod in a deck full of artifacts? In fact, this deck plays more artifact abilities than most decks that don’t play Null Rod! So why does this deck play the powerful artifact hoser? It just boils down to the usual shops question of “Who can use it better?” Tangle Wire, sphere effects, Chalice of the Void, Smokestack, and Null Rod apply restrictions to BOTH players, but the Workshop decks often take advantage of the situation better than the opponent. It is worth it to sacrifice the utility of your moxen if you can do the same for the opponent (who can often use the moxen for far more broken things). Null Rod just does work in these shops decks and for that reason, expect to see this spell in many decklists.

That wraps up my discussion on Mishra’s Workshops decks. Do I have any aspiring shops players reading? Do these lists seem interesting? Even if every coffee is brown, you can still add different flavors for variety. Same goes for shops decks. Enjoy using one of the most broken lands ever printed and I will see you next time on Road to VSL. Thanks for reading!

Weekly Ward Season 2 Ep. 14 – Life’s Legacy

This week on the Weekly Ward. Dan Ward and Kevin Jones talk about recent Legacy tournament along with the recent GP winners and their decks. They go over the new spoilers in Amonkhet and talk about whats broken and whats not in this weeks episode!